- US intelligence agencies cautioned the White House last year that Russian intelligence was using President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to funnel disinformation to him,The Washington Post reported.
- The national security advisor Robert O’Brien was said to have warned the president afterward to approach any information Giuliani conveyed to him with scepticism.
- One source told The Post that the message to Trump was, “Do what you want to do, but your friend Rudy has been worked by Russian assets in Ukraine.”
- When Trump was told that Giuliani was a target for Russian intelligence, he shrugged and said, “That’s Rudy,” according to The Post.
- Giuliani has repeatedly pushed unfounded allegations that Joe Biden and his son Hunter have shady ties to corrupt Ukrainian interests.
- He also met last year with a Ukrainian national who has since been sanctioned for acting as a Russian agent.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
US intelligence agencies cautioned the White House last year that Russian intelligence operatives were targeting President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani as a way to push disinformation to the president, The Washington Post reported.
The paper cited four former officials familiar with the matter who said the warnings were based on several sources, including intercepted communications. The communications are said to have shown that Giuliani communicated with multiple people who had ties to Russian intelligence during a December 2019 trip to Ukraine. The former New York mayor made the trip as part of his effort to dig up dirt on the Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter related to the younger Biden’s work for the Ukrainian natural-gas company Burisma Holdings.
The Post reported that the intercepted communications raised red flags with US officials who worried that Russian officials were using Giuliani as a conduit to feed disinformation to Trump. After the White House was warned about the possibility, the report said, the national security advisor Robert O’Brien told the president to approach any information Giuliani gave him with caution.
One source told The Post that the message to Trump was, “Do what you want to do, but your friend Rudy has been worked by Russian assets in Ukraine.”
When Trump was told his personal lawyer was a target for Russian intelligence, the paper said that he shrugged and responded, “That’s Rudy.”
The warning to Trump was especially stark because officials wanted “to protect the president from coming out and saying something stupid,” the Post said. At the time, Trump was facing impeachment for his efforts to force Ukraine to launch politically motivated investigations into the Bidens and Burisma.
In January, after Trump was impeached and while he and Giuliani were pushing for the investigations, hackers associated with Russia’s military-intelligence agency successfully breached Burisma’s servers.
And on Wednesday, The New York Times reported that US intelligence analysts had concluded as of last month that the Russians might be planning to dump a mixture of hacked and forged Burisma emails as an “October surprise” before the US election. A dubious and misleading New York Post story purporting to show “smoking-gun” emails between Hunter Biden and a top executive at Burisma was published hours before The Times reported the information.
Giuliani, for his part, met at least once during his 2019 Ukraine trip with Andrii Derkach, a Ukrainian national who was sanctioned by the Treasury last month for acting as a Russian agent and spreading disinformation related to the 2020 US election. The former mayor has said he met with Derkach several times since then.
Giuliani’s primary focus on the Bidens relates to Hunter Biden’s work on the board of Burisma and claims that the elder Biden leveraged his official US position as vice president to protect his son.
Specifically, Trump, Giuliani, and the president’s allies have pushed unfounded allegations that Biden, while vice president, orchestrated the firing of the Ukrainian prosecutor general in 2016 to shut down an investigation into Burisma while his son was affiliated with the company.
As Business Insider previously reported, there is no evidence that the allegations hold merit because Biden was representing the official position of the US, most of the Western world, and institutions like the International Monetary Fund when he called for the ouster of the prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin. Moreover, Bloomberg reported that the investigation into Burisma was largely dormant when Shokin was fired.
And government officials and Ukrainian anticorruption advocates said Shokin had hampered the investigation into Burisma long before Biden even entered the picture, The Wall Street Journal reported. In other words, Biden was doing the opposite of what Trump and Giuliani have implied: He was trying to oust a prosecutor who was slow-walking the investigation into Burisma, rather than actively targeting the company.
Giuliani has also amplified a bogus conspiracy theory suggesting that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 US election. The claim has been widely debunked by US and other Western intelligence agencies as part of a Russian effort to distract from the Kremlin’s role in meddling in the race. The US intelligence community concluded with high confidence in January 2017 that Moscow interfered in the election to denigrate Hillary Clinton and propel Trump to the presidency.
That finding has been confirmed by the special counsel Robert Mueller and a bipartisan report from the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee.
Most recently, Giuliani made headlines as one of the sources of the dubious New York Post story.
The New York Post said that it learned of the emails â€” which have not been independently verified as authentic â€” from the former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon last month and that Giuliani turned over a hard drive containing the emails on Sunday. Giuliani, in turn, is said to have obtained them after a computer-repair-shop owner in Delaware recovered it from a water-damaged laptop that was dropped off for repairs in April 2019 but never picked up.
The story featured numerous holes and red flags and was widely dismissed as being part of an effort to damage the candidacy of Biden â€” the Democratic presidential nominee â€” weeks before Election Day by raising the specter of corruption related to Ukraine and Burisma.